GAINING:
The Truth About Life
After Eating Disorders

Essays, Articles, & Nonfiction Works
by Aimee Liu

RESOURCES
These treatment facilities offer specialized programs for eating disorders, including men and women over age 21.
Discover the many ways others are using their voices, talents, and passions to turn suffering into creativity and hope.
Links to websites and organizations that provide information and referrals.
References cited in GAINING
Books
How do anorexia and bulimia impact life AFTER recovery? GAINING is one of the first books about eating disorders to connect the latest scientific insights to the personal truth of life before, during, and especially after anorexia and bulimia.
"I've read countless books about eating disorders, but I've never seen one like this. Combining the professional wisdom of leading experts with personal experiences from women and men all over the globe, this book fills a gap on the recovery bookshelf. Anyone who has been touched by an eating disorder needs to read this."—Jenni Schaefer, author of Life without Ed
America's first memoir of anorexia, and one of the earliest books about eating disorders, originally published in 1979

Newsletter

HELP NEW MOON GIVE GIRLS MORE POWER-FULL VOICES

November 8, 2009

Dear Friends,
I know you know how important it is for girls to feel empowered and full of themselves in the healthiest possible ways! Power-full girls are strong and resilient. They're less vulnerable to eating and body image disorders and can be vital friends to those who develop these illnesses.

Nancy Gruver, a friend I made when we were just girls, has for nearly two decades run a magazine and website designed to give today's girls a power-full voice. Now this publication, New Moon, needs our help to survive.

Please read Nancy's letter below and subscribe for all the girls in your life at
www.newmoon.com
[I'm sorry this link is not active. Please cut and paste into your browser.]


Empowering girls with healthy, positive media is my lifelong passion, and one I know you share. New Moon Girls online community and magazine gives girls ages 8 and up a safe, exciting, supportive space to express themselves and hear from other girls around the world. Girls who could be the next Courtney Martin (a finalist this week in Washington Post's America's Next Great Pundit contest) whose first article was published in New Moon when she was a girl, 14 years ago.

Sadly, this will all end on 12-31-09 without your help.

New Moon's had a tough year like many other businesses. Even with a lot of effort, we haven't succeeded in bringing in additional investors this fall, and it's time to add a new strategy to keep New Moon alive. We have until Dec 31 to reach monthly break-even so that New Moon can grow in the future.

Have we tightened our own belts? You betcha! Right now our monthly expenses are 65% less than they were a year ago. But we still have a gap of $7500 a month to break-even. The good news is that with your help we can close this gap. The gap amounts to only 250 orders a month @ $29.95.

With your help to sponsor memberships for non-profits and to give New Moon as gifts, we can continue to ensure a media that lifts girls' aspirations, increases their power, and gives them an outlet for their unique perspectives and voices. I'm sending this email to everyone I know and asking you to do the same.

Together, we can fill this gap and save New Moon for girls.

Please act today so the media universe for girls won't be totally dominated by Stardoll.com, Seventeen magazine, and worse.

You can help by:

* Sponsoring memberships for libraries, schools and programs serving low-income girls. It's quick and easy to sponsor one, ten or 100 girls - every dollar matters!
* Buying memberships for all girls 8-14 that you know. Our holiday special saves you 50% after the first order.
* Telling everyone what you value about New Moon. Link to us, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share with your FB friends and Tweeps.

Together, we can do it. Please call me with any questions or concerns you have at 218-206-2219. And, in addition to the above ways to help, if you would like to learn more about becoming an investor in New Moon, let me know.

Thank you,

Nancy
Nancy Gruver, Founder
New Moon Girl Media
Author, How To Say It To Girls
218-206-2219
www.newmoon.com
www.daughters.com


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Anorexia's Red Herring

Too-skinny models may be a factor in spawning eating disorders, but they're just one of many.
By Aimee Liu

Published in the Los
Angeles Times,
September 22, 2006

THIS WEEK in Madrid, heroin chic was prohibited. For the first time, the organizers of a major international fashion show recognized that by showcasing emaciated models, the fashion industry promotes eating disorders. Under pressure from the Madrid government, medical associations and women's advocacy groups, the Assn. of Fashion Designers of Spain finally rejected morbidly thin models.

When selecting models for this year's Madrid fashion week, which ends today, the designers set a minimum body mass ratio (calculated on the basis of height and weight). Their required ratio was 18 — meaning a minimum of 119 pounds for a 5-foot, 8-inch woman. The bar was by no means high. For ordinary mortals, a ratio of 18.5 qualifies as underweight. Even so, five of the 68 auditioning models flunked.

To understand why they flunked, we need to look beyond the fashion industry to the true causes of eating disorders. These include genetic predisposition, temperament, family dynamics and personal trauma. I know; modeling fueled but did not cause my own adolescent eating disorder nearly 40 years ago.

Twiggy was my generation's Kate Moss. I fixated on her at age 13, and by the time I started modeling one year later, I'd dropped 30 pounds. Being skinny became my identity. At 5 feet, 7 inches, I didn't weigh more than 100 pounds again until I was 21.

My anorexia ultimately destroyed my career.

Models were — and still are — paid to make fashions look good, and that meant fitting sample wardrobes. Reigning teen cover girls Shelley Hack and Colleen Corby understood this. In dressing room lunches between shoots, I'd watch them wolf down tuna salad sandwiches while I pretended not to be hungry. They were lucky, I told myself, they could get away with eating. I began to lose jobs when I became so thin that stylists couldn't even pin dresses on me to look right. Still, I felt I couldn't eat.

Like many anorexic models, I was drawn to the fashion world because it reinforced my anorexia. I would be willing to bet that most, if not all, of the runway models disqualified in Madrid fit the same pattern — as do many emaciated gymnasts and ice skaters.

Three years ago, I began interviewing medical researchers as well as middle-age women and men with histories of anorexia and bulimia. I wanted to find out what we know now that we didn't know in the 1970s, when I quit my self-imposed hunger strike. I learned that researchers now are discovering genetic links between eating disorders, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Genes also shape the temperaments of people who are prone to anorexia and bulimia, although the mechanisms for this are still poorly understood.

A landmark 2003 British study found that certain innate childhood traits, such as perfectionism, inflexibility and cautiousness, each increase an individual's risk for anorexia by a factor of seven. Someone like me, possessing all five traits measured in the study, is 35 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than a daredevil who happily wears mismatched socks.

Further, eating disorders are triggered not by pictures of Kate Moss but by sudden or cumulative experiences of intolerable emotion, such as shame or fear. Puberty unleashes a natural tidal wave of these emotions. Adolescence also happens to be the age when rates of sexual abuse soar, academic and social pressures intensify and parents become a source of embarrassment rather than solace. It makes sense that this is prime time for eating disorders. Obsession with weight offers a distraction. Extreme weight loss signals distress.

It also makes sense that rates of anorexia and bulimia spike in middle age, when many women again face emotional turmoil. Women over 30 now make up a full third of residential patients at the Renfrew Center, a Philadelphia treatment facility specializing in eating disorders. Divorce, grief, the empty nest — all can trigger illness if the individual possesses a genetic predisposition.

The onset of eating disorders is like the firing of a gun. Genetics form the gun. Cultural influences such as the fashion industry and familial attitudes about weight then load it. And intense emotional distress pulls the trigger.

Healthier figures on international catwalks may help to disarm the gun. However, of the more than 40 women I interviewed, only a handful had ever paid any attention to fashion. When they started starving, they were asking for help, not admiration. Those models who failed the test in Madrid need treatment, not rebuke.



Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times